The Mosaic Law's penal system (among others) includes the severe punishment of death by stoning. To be a little gruesome here: it takes a while to be killed in this way, and so there would theoretically be sufficient time (and impetus) for repentance and penitence before God—and consequently the punishment would take care of most or all of the temporal punishment due to the sin committed.

One Scripture especially comes to mind:

1 Corinthians 5:1-5 (DRB) It is absolutely heard, that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as the like is not among the heathens; that one should have his father's wife. 2 And you are puffed up; and have not rather mourned, that he might be taken away from among you, that hath done this deed. 3 I indeed, absent in body, but present in spirit, have already judged, as though I were present, him that hath so done, 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, you being gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus; 5 To deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.


Do any Church Fathers write along these lines (the merciful/practical, and not merely penal, nature of the death penalty)?

  • 1
    My understanding of stoning is that it is a communal judgment. That is to say the whole congregation of Israel in the wilderness were involved, not just one single, appointed executioner. The death is the decision of the whole assembly. – Nigel J Mar 29 at 22:59
  • Not sure if you want to include this, but we saw this movie a few years back and its depiction of stoning was striking. this one also, the Lottery, is a stark and unflinching look at stoning as a tradition. It may be worth adding a link to the question to underscore your point on the grim nature of that tradition. Your call.. – KorvinStarmast Mar 30 at 0:59
  • @NigelJ That doesn't speak to the fundamental purpose of said communal punishment, though. – Sola Gratia Mar 30 at 14:29
  • @SolaGratia The 'said purpose' is to execute the offender. The execution is carried out communally – Nigel J Mar 30 at 14:59
  • I think you completely misread my question, then, because my question has as one of its premises that the Law of Moses commands stoning/excution of the offender. That's not at all the issue. It's not whether or not its penal, but "merely penal," and whether Church Fathers comment along these lines on the matter or not. – Sola Gratia Mar 30 at 22:20

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.